Strength of character
HIDDEN AGENDA (The Philippine Star) - January 23, 2016 - 9:00am

In less than half a year, the dimwits that we have elected to run our affairs for us and to supposedly make our lives better will be gone.

We all make mistakes. We thought that he and his people had the IQ to handle simple problems like how to reduce income tax rates without draining government coffers or how to improve our country’s mass transport system or how to raise SSS pensions but at the same time making sure that the SSS remains financially viable.

We forgot that intelligence is not enough. That what we need is a President who has a decent emotional quotient, a President who can emphatize, one who truly cares for the poor and the needy.

But as soon as a problem comes along, what does our President do? He refuses to face it because then, his mettle will be tested. And then his ability to meet a challenge under demanding circumstances will be put to a test. This he will not allow to happen.

President Aquino could have been remembered as the President who did everything within his means to improve the lives of Filipinos. When he and his men first learned that there was this congressional measure proposing an increase in SSS pensions by P2,000, the President should have immediately called the overpaid SSS board and management for a briefing on what could be done to make the increase happen. This is after all a remarkable piece of proposed social legislation that needs to become a reality before his term ends.

But instead of doing his homework, the President simply believed the lies mouthed by equally dim-witted people who told him that the proposed P2,000 increase would drain SSS finances by 2029. But that scenario assumes that the status quo remains – that SSS’ investment income and/or member-employer contributions do not increase, and that collections remain poor.

There are those who can’t help but compare the President to Vice President Jejomar Binay, especially when it comes to making hard choices.

One writer noted that when Binay was chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), there was a proposal to increase Pag-IBIG contributions to raise more funds. But instead of choosing the easy solution, Binay rejected the proposal since this would increase the hardship of Filipino workers and instead ordered Pag-IBIG officials to increase membership and improve collection efficiency.

Indeed, Pag-IBIG’s membership base increased from 8.5 million to 15 million while collection efficiency dramatically improved. Binay, the writer pointed out, showed empathy for the poor but at the same time strength of character and a relentless management style that encouraged the housing fund managers to work harder without going to the easy route of simply raising contribution rates.

We should ask all our presidential and vice-presidential candidates what their respective positions are when it comes to increasing SSS pensions, reducing income tax rates, among others and what their detailed plans are to address these problems. This way, we might be able to avoid the mistake of electing a president who we have to tolerate for six years because he or she is creating more problems than solutions.

Not so hidden agenda

The Siena College Quezon City Alumni Association is inviting everyone to the 5th Grand Alumni Homecoming on Feb. 20, 2016 at the Siena Hall. Registration is at 10 a.m. to be followed by a fun-filled day of activities that include good food, good company, and entertainment from home-grown talents. Don’t miss the chance to once again reconnect with former classmates, teachers, principals, and sisters who were our mentors in high school. For ticket inquiries, please contact Mavi Tiangco-Zuniga at 09999962580 (Smart) or Milet Ferrer-Jacinto at 09151293173 (Globe).

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